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What You Need to Know About Gathering on Thanksgiving as COVID-19 Surges

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University of Michigan Epidemiologist Dr. Emily Martin says we’re in a better situation than last year thanks to vaccines, but Michiganders should weigh the risks and benefits of gathering amid the state’s fourth surge

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The latest numbers from the CDC report that Michigan is leading the country in new COVID-19 cases. Despite the protections provided by vaccinations, public health experts advise caution as Michiganders gather during the holiday season amid this surge. Epidemiologist Dr. Emily Martin lists some protective measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19 this Thanksgiving.

You do have a lot of protective layers available when you’re traveling — the testing and the masking before and while traveling, and the testing again when you get back.” —Dr. Emily Martin, University of Michigan 

Listen: Public health expert Dr. Emily Martin with tips for reducing the risk of COVID-19 this Thanksgiving.


Dr. Emily Martin is an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She says in addition to vaccinations, there are preventive steps we can take against COVID-19 transmission when gathering for the holiday. “You do have a lot of protective layers available when you’re traveling — the testing and the masking before and while traveling, and the testing again when you get back.” Home-testing kits are more reliable than last year, and Martin says self-testing is an easy way to ensure nobody in your group could spread the virus. “The idea of getting self-tests at home got kind of a bad rap at the beginning of the pandemic … but these newer home kits are excellent, and there are a lot of situations where they can be useful.” 

For those with loved ones who still refuse to get vaccinated, Martin says Thanksgiving could be an opportunity to sit down and discuss their concerns. “One of the things in public health that we really push for is that most people have a trusted doctor that they talk with and ask questions … So really encouraging our family members to ask their doctors about these questions … because we care about them.”

Steps to stay safe this Thanksgiving from epidemiologist Dr. Emily Martin:

  • Gather in a smaller group 

  • Gather in an exclusively vaccinated group

  • Mask when outside of your immediate group

  • Mask in large crowds or when traveling

  • Exercise home-testing or drive-through testing before gathering 

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.


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Nora Rhein, Detroit Today Intern

Nora Rhein works with the production team on “Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson” on 101.9 WDET. She’s very proud to be a public radio nerd.

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